Indonesia’s rapid urbanization opens doors for a variety of benefits: increasing prosperity through economic specialization, creating livable cities with diverse economic drivers and vibrant public spaces, and supporting a more inclusive society by facilitating more efficient public services. However, urban development also bears certain risks, including growing exposure of assets and people to disaster risk. It is estimated that some 110 million people, approximately 42 percent of the population, across approximately 60 Indonesian cities are exposed to natural hazards (Gunawan et al. 2015). The number is expected to increase due to urban population growth and associated transformation of the built and natural environment, projected effects of climate change, and more widespread land subsidence.
The objective of this policy note is to influence the ongoing discussion on how urbanization can contribute to improving disaster resilience. Particularly, this note seeks to raise awareness of some of the opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of Indonesian cites and their dwellers. This note argues that the vulnerability of Indonesian cities and their inhabitants can be reduced by improving access to quality disaster and climate risk information applied in planning, improving the structural integrity of urban infrastructure, enhanced early warning and emergency management systems, and strengthening the capacity of communities and subnational governments to manage disaster risks. Policy reforms, investments in disaster risk management, and better institutional coordination are needed to minimize loss of life, reduce damage to assets and economy, and protect and further enhance prosperity, inclusiveness and livability of Indonesia’s cities.